Comic Collection Review: Baron Bean 1916 by George Herriman

baron-bean-cover

Baron Bean is know primarily as sort of the bastard son of George Herriman, who is much better known for his influential and world renowned comic Krazy & Ignatz also known as Krazy Kat to many people. You can find the IDW Library of American Comics Collection at Amazon Here: http://www.amazon.com/LOAC-Essentials-Library-American-Comics/dp/1613774427?ie=UTF8&keywords=baron%20bean&qid=1461162898&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Baron Bean is at first a strip about societal class and later a strip about domestic life.  It shows how many believe in the “Old World,” that hard work is for the working class and an unfit pursuit for a “gentleman”, a misnomer which has hung around for far too long as the aristocracy languishes around in decaying mansions living off of borrowed money and dying a slow death of decay.

In the “New World” these aristocrats found themselves basically living in ghettos and still clinging to their air of aristocracy as they spent their days trying to mooch a meal or a bed from anyone they could.  Herriman even wrote another strip before this one called Baron Mooch which played much to a similar style of gag.

Baron bean shifted in focus, probably due to lagging sales in newspapers, and became more  of a domestic comedy strip on June 20, 1916 about halfway through it’s first year.  the class struggle angle really wasn’t landing with the American public, so out of the blue the wives of Baron Bean and his sidekick Grimes show up.  The daily strip lasted two more years before finally being cancelled, but Harriman was already working on Krazy and Ignatz by then and his star was ascending.

It is a comic of some interest to collectors and people interested in the immigrant crisis as well as class struggles at the turn of the last century, those same issues are once again playing themselves out today.  Now it is the industrial working class or white collar worker which is the dying breed instead of the aristocracy.

The comic poses some interesting parallels to the modern world, I think Herriman’s Baron Bean comic would have found a much more receptive audience in today’s climate, but he had a much greater destiny to fulfill anyway.  Baron Bean is an interesting read for any aficionado of comic history and any student of the class struggle.  You will see glimpses of Herriman’s artistic genius here and there, but in the four panel format, he was limited, unlike the mind blowing innovations that he did with Krazy & Ignatz on Sunday’s.    So check it out True Believers, this comic will show you that Herriman was not just a one trick pony, but a well rounded comic genius, so until next time, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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